I flew back to Singapore not expecting to be giving a message at my own grandmother’s funeral. But this was exactly what I did this week. I’d like to log my messages, tributes and eulogy.
(post edit: if you want to first read a prequel to this post. Almost as if prophesy… I did a dedication post for her EXACTLY one year ago here!)
1. Funeral Service Massage
Hi, for those who don’t know me, my name is Mervin. I’m Wong Poh Kwai’s eldest grandson. She’s my mah mah. Tonight, I’d like to begin by sharing with you how mah mah became a Christian.
I remember when I was very young. Must have been my early teens. I can’t remember the exact age. All I remembered was when I knew about heaven as a Christian, I was fixated on wanting my mah mah to be there with me in heaven. Because I knew that if she didn’t know this Jesus person, whom I’ll be talking about, I won’t see her in heaven. I can’t remember how I shared with her about Jesus, but I’m sure I fumbled along in Cantonese and she most likely couldn’t understand my half translated version of the gospel.
Then one day, by God’s grace, and I thank God for his grace that day, she fell and couldn’t get up. She said that something was weighing her down and that she couldn’t get up. She called for me (Call in Cantonese) and I came up from downstairs. She said she couldn’t move and asked me to pray to my God for help. And in my innocence, I did. I said, “in the name of Jesus for her to get up and walk.” I can’t be sure if a miracle happened that day with regards to her walking. But I know another miracle happened that day. She placed her faith in Jesus. She accepted Christ. Tonight, I would like to share with you my Grandma’s Christian faith and explain to you a little what the bible says about this faith she and I share.
Let’s begin with Her life after conversion. Mah mah started to follow us to Church. Slowly but surely, she started to learn to read the bible for herself. She started to serve at church by doing visitations and loving others. She went for bible study. She prayed. She attended prayer meetings. She read more of the bible and she attended more church. Then she studied the bible more. And she read more of the bible. I know, because I can see how much she loved the bible simply by looking at it. See! (Hold her bible up). I hope my bible looks like that in the future. Mine still looks pretty new compared to hers.
In summary, she is a stock-standard Christian. She lived a life acceptable and pleasing to God. We believe that as early as Saturday night, she would have stood before God and he might have asked her a simple question at the gates to heaven. ‘Why should I allow you into my joyful presence to spend eternity with me?’ Guess what she has to say? Do you think she will repeat all the good things she mentioned before? Do you think mah mah would say, “God, I read the bible, I prayed, I visited others, I attended Church regularly, I attended bible study and faithfully attended district group meetings, please let me in.”
No! She would say none of the good things! The only thing she will say is this, ‘It is by the blood of my saviour Jesus Christ that I will enter.’ Let me say that again: She’ll say, ‘It is by the blood of my saviour Jesus Christ that I will enter.’
This is what Christian faith means. Mah mah’s faith. It is not dependent on what she has done or how good a person she was. The Christian faith is all about where the faith is placed. For us, it’s in Jesus Christ. It’s not about how much or little faith we have. It’s about WHO we place our faith IN. That is Jesus Christ. But why do we need to put our faith in this Jesus? Can’t we simply just live a good life. Don’t do anything wrong. Don’t break the law. Don’t harm others. Be kind. Can oledi what right? Let me share with you why Jesus is so central to us and our faith. If you have a bible, please turn with me to Ephesians 2:1-10. I will use this portion of the bible to share with you why Jesus is so important to us as Christians.
So you see, we believe that God created this world. He created all the things we see in this world. He also created us. And he created us to rule the world under his authority as our king. But as you can see – look around. The world is not a great place. It is not perfect, in fact it is broken, we screwed it up. We have terrorists, angry people, high COE, ERP and lousy gamen. Right?
What about ourselves? We know that we’re never inherently good. A little white lie here, a little piracy there, cutting some corners here and there. All this is not meant to make you feel bad. At the end of the day, what it means is that we told God to get lost. We asked him to move aside and let us be our own king of our own little kingdom of our own lives. Because of this, the writer says we are all dead because of our trespasses. All of us! This choice of us living our own lives and ignoring him is fatal. Because ignoring God leads to death.
This is where the story turns. Jesus Christ.
The writer says it was God’s plan of redemption. He loved us so much, he sent his only son Jesus to become a man to die on the cross for us nearly 2000 years ago. He was the one perfect man who was sacrificed for all man. You and I. The bible says it is rare for anyone to die for a righteous man, maybe for a good man someone would die. Here Jesus died for all of us while we were sinners.
Why? To redeem us from death. As a result of Jesus’s death on the cross our sins are wiped clean. This is why mah mah can say at the gates, “because of Jesus’ blood, I can come in”. All of her sin was wiped cleaned because of this one act of sacrifice by Jesus. There was one more step. The final step in this plan was for Jesus to resurrect. To rise up and become the ruler of this world. To restore order rule over us who put our faith in him as king. So in summary, Jesus can wipe our sins clean. Through Jesus, we can enter into heaven to meet God and he expects us to follow him as Lord. All it takes is faith in him.
So this is the Christian faith. The faith mah mah and I share. This is why I am so certain I will see her again in a paradise. A paradise we call heaven.
I will end with a quote from a great Christian writer. His name is J.I. Packer. He is only a year older than my mah mah and had recently lost his eyesight. Let me read you his response in a recent interview when asked about what the bible had to say about his condition.
Here is what he said: “It tells me now what it told me 40 years ago, namely, that we wear out, physically we come apart. You get old, and getting old means the loss of faculties and powers you had when you were younger. And that is the way God prepares us to leave this world to which he is taking us. The message of Ecclesiastes 12 (from the bible) says “Get right with God as early in life as you can. Don’t leave it until some time in the future when you’re not likely to be able to handle it well at all.”
I praise God and truly thank him for allowing me to fumble through sharing the gospel with my mah mah in my younger days. I am so glad that he allowed her conversion then, and not on her deathbed when she wasn’t able to make this decision anymore. She got right with God through this man Jesus. And now I can see her in heaven again.
Let me conclude with three encouragements.
First, to the friends and family who are fellow Christians let me encourage you with this. If you are worn out today, feeling you don’t have enough faith to be saved. Perhaps you feel you are not praying enough, not visiting enough, not attending church enough, not reading the bible enough… Take heart. Jesus says, if you have faith in me, I will do the rest. You are secure in me. I love you and I have already done what is required for your salvation.
Second, for those of us we have this assured faith in Jesus. Let us reflect and rejoice today as we celebrate because mah mah is now closer to God and Jesus than we are. And one day, we will be reunited with her in glory together with God. Today, for us, is not a day or mourning, but a day of rejoicing because she is in a better and more perfect place than this. A place with no cancer, pain or sadness. She’ll have a perfect body and she’ll look young. I joked with her when I was talking to her last week that I might not be able to recognise her beautiful and young body when I see her in heaven.
And finally, to the friends here today who don’t yet know this Jesus and are not Christians. I encourage you to consider the wise words of J.I. Packer.
Get right with God while you still can!
Knowing him and knowing that we belong to a kingdom and family of believers like us.
It is far far more precious than anything on this earth. Knowing that we can see each other again in heaven and spend eternity with each other in the presence of God changes our world view on things on this earth. Suddenly, all this rat race and worries and pain seems small and no longer significant in the grander timeline of eternity. You can rest. You can have joy. You can have peace to know that your salvation is secured through Jesus. If that is you today and you are curious about this faith we have, speak to me or one of the members of our Church after this and we can follow up with you.
Let us pray
2. Eulogy and Tribute (from Facebook)
This is my mah mah (grandma). She looked after me until I finished Secondary (high) School. She taught me Cantonese. She fueled my passion for cooking and food. She has an infectious smile. She has a sense of humor. She is the reason I have the courage to be an evangelist. She is the reason I remember what servant-hood means. She is the reason I understand what toil with love means.
Today, we said “see you later” to her. She is now with the Lord. Enjoying herself in glory. “Mah Mah, I can’t wait to see you again. I can’t wait to see you in your younger, perfect and beautiful self. I wish we can meet again very soon, but there is still so much to do here for the Lord.” Jesus, please say ‘hi’ to her for me. Give her a hug for me. Lord, thank you for the chance for me to say goodbye before she left to join you.